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Filipino American Expat in Singapore

Posts from the Dublin Category

Dublin is a peaceful city. Unless you’ve had a few rounds of Guinness. I guess like in most European cities, the buildings aren’t tall. But they’re old and historic— filled with shops and cafes.

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This was part of the festival parade route during Saint Patrick’s Day. This was taken in front of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.

When I took these photos, I hadn’t seen the boutiques of London, Paris, or Vienna. Dublin is the first European city I’m visiting. I suppose this is a great start.

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I had a few things in mind while walking. I wanted to see Dublin Castle but ended up taking a wrong turn and discovering something else.

While I was in Dublin for work, I couldn’t help but take in my surroundings and breathe the cool air. It was 8-12 degrees C. Luckily, it wasn’t raining during the times I was out on these streets.

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Inside this art shop is a real fireplace (lol, forgive me I only see them in pictures). I purchased a print.

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This is how Saint Patrick’s Cathedral looks like from the side. People were out with their dogs.

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It’s frigid enough. These birds though.

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Fresh flowers all around. This was taken near Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.

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This building houses the Grafton Guesthouse among other establishments.

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Kellys Hotel (which manages Grafton Guesthouse) sits above Hogan’s. I regret not being able to try the food and beer at Hogan’s.

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I was walking with Krutika when we passed by this lovely chocolate cafe in the shopping district.

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It takes time adjusting to different shopping cultures. Replace Asian malls with streets lined with fast food joints and clothing stores. This is one prime area filled with shops.

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I took this photo before the sun set on Saint Patrick’s Day. People were starting to gather in larger groups and were hanging outside the pubs nearby.

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You can see how some of the stores are closed already.

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What caught my attention wasn’t the old building. It was the sign in front that said Cushman & Wakefield were developing it.

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Buskers on Saint Patrick’s Day. A touch of green and bright orange.

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McDonalds in green.

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Couldn’t help but take a photo with this man in a cardinal costume.

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Streets cleared for Saint Patrick’s Day.

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Street near my guesthouse.

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I was looking for lip balm.

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A street near my guesthouse.

A feeling I had was of delight and sadness.

Delightful to see old buildings survive the ages.

Sadness? Because there are plenty of old buildings in other parts of the world that get destroyed by conflict and war. Many of those old buildings were destroyed in Manila by the Japanese and the Americans in World War II. What if we still had those buildings?

See part 2 of my street photo walk here.See part 2 of my street photo walk here.

I don’t remember the last time I attended a parade filled with performers and floats. It would probably be the Manila Pride March back in 2011. Since then we’ve had crazy performances like with my dragon boat team doing a Sinulog number.

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The mood of the parade if you’re in the right places.

Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17. It’s the traditional death date of Saint Patrick (AD 385-461) who was the foremost saint of Ireland.

I met up with my colleagues who found a vantage point from Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. The parade started at 12:00 PM local time but it didn’t reach our part of the route until about 1:30 PM. The weather was cold, the skies were sunny (heard that in the previous year it was snowing), and the crowds looked excited.

(I think the local population headed away from the city. Maybe the crowds were mostly tourists.)

I had a good time because it was watching a tradition. Here are some photos I took.

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Looking for a place along the parade route.

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They have some of the best views, eh?

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Checking out the parade route.

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Get your face painted!

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I got a shamrock.

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From the roof.

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Click here to see the next part.

Meeting colleagues in Dublin is one thing. But getting to see how their office space looks like is just as fun. The company’s Dublin office is more of a campus spread over two buildings that go by a simple naming convention: new or old

The old building isn’t too bad at all. In fact, it’s cozier than its glass-and-steel sibling just a revolving door away. Like the new building, the old one has its own barista. YES. A barista. Both buildings also have their own food halls. This means you don’t have to troop to the other building for a meal.

What’s impressive is that the Dublin campus sits right smack in the middle of an actual city neighborhood. I’m not talking about Singapore shimmery shiny CBD. Here you have floor-to-ceiling windows that give you an unobstructed view of rooftops and chimneys. How impressive that fact is for a local Irish colleague I clearly don’t know.

From the ground floor, meeting and game rooms are separated from the streets only by floor-to-ceiling windows. These are barely frosted. You can spot a delivery person walking outside. Like a voyeur in the life of an ordinary citizen. Why that fascinates me is because I’ve gotten used to walls and barriers in Asia. We work in towers. Here they work with a view of someone’s garage. You’re right there with everyone else on the street. Truly, members first.

So it wasn’t all Guinness beer and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. Or pubs and Irish dancing. There’s actual work to be done. I was in Ireland for work. Grateful to meet colleagues who work from the Dublin office. And seeing their cozy campus. I leave you with photos.

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With some of my colleagues in Dublin.

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The signature logo that greets all visitors.

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For Dublin, it’s made of a special weave.

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The weave has influences from across EMEA.

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At first I thought it’s green year-round. They added a green sheath to give it a St. Patrick’s Day look.

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The dining hall in the new building. The communal space is intended to make everyone feel they belong in “one town”.

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The roof deck in the new building. 

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Turn left for the barista.

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Creating economic opportunity for the world’s professionals.

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Meeting rooms on the higher levels.

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The new building.

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Add a jolt of creativity to your day?

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Views of rooftops outside the Dublin office.

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The games room in the new building.

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Floor-to-ceiling windows that invite the city inside.

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If you need focus time at the barista.

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The barista in the new building.

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Plenty of collaborative spaces.

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Loving this capture with colleagues from Singapore, SFO, Sydney and Dublin.

 

I’ll stay here again. Grafton Guesthouse is 5/5 for me.

I try to stay in the city centre whenever I book accommodation. This is especially true if it’s the first time I’m visiting a city. In this case it’s Dublin. I’ve arrived in the city after a 22-hour transit from Singapore. I’m excited to check-in.

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Grafton Guesthouse blends into this beautiful structure along South Great George’s Street.

Location. Grafton Guesthouse is located in a central Dublin city neighborhood. It’s a few steps away from one of the city’s shopping districts. It’s also a few blocks away from Temple Bar which is famous for its many pubs and restaurants. There’s no question about the location. Grafton Guesthouse is pretty central. It’s a guesthouse that’s managed by Kellys Hotel which is just a few doors away (about a 15 second hop across a small street next to Hogan’s Pub).

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I got upgraded to use a gorgeous Loft Room with exposed brick walls. Loved it so much!

Ambiance. This was probably my favourite part. Other than being tucked inside of an old building, the interiors were impeccably designed. You have wood flooring and it felt like each of the rooms were distinct from the other. It smells like fresh wood. Like you want to cozy up by the fireplace and drink hot chocolate. The guesthouse itself doesn’t have too many rooms on one level. The ground level is simply a stairwell which leads to the first floor (yes, the 2nd floor is the 1st floor in these parts). A connecting door to a breakfast area which is open in the morning.

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The skylights are remote-controlled. This is my standard for a European lodging. WOW.

Room. The room I originally booked was a smaller, compact room on the first floor. But there was a false fire alarm on my first night (it wasn’t originating from the guesthouse, it was coming from outside which triggered the fire alarm). They moved me to the loft on the top floor which is perfect for couples. But kinda too large for someone like me. Still loved it. It had a large TV screen and about 1/3rd of the space was a large bathroom with these apple-green tiles. It was the rooftop of this part of the building so it made for dramatic tall ceilings. LOVED EVERY BIT OF IT.

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The shower area and the apple-green tiles. Great touch that compliments the wood.

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Look at the detail to the lighting. Both natural and electric. The attention. ❤

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Letting some of Dublin’s cool weather into my room.

Amenities. A simple breakfast is available at the breakfast area in the morning. It’s carefully spread over a long table and you can help yourself to toast, some fresh slices of cold meat, cheese, cereal, and fruit. You can ask for an espresso too.

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Grab breakfast and enjoy people watching from the first level. Intimate setting.

Price. $$$. I can’t find anything in Dublin below SGD 200.00 per night during the super peak St. Patrick’s Day weekend. In fact, I almost stayed at a dorm room where a bed was SGD 200.00 per night. I spent about SGD 200.00+ on my first night here. The 2nd night was covered by my company.

George’s Overall Review. I will definitely stay here again if I get a chance to stay or visit Dublin in the future. Compared to the company-preferred accommodation I stayed at later on in the trip, Grafton Guesthouse has a boutique charm to it. It’s not a major hotel chain. It’s right up my alley: character + location. Do look for Grafton Guesthouse if you’re looking for a no-frills boutique hotel to stay at in central Dublin.

I found the website to Grafton Guesthouse here (http://graftonguesthouse.com/).

Location on Google Maps

  • 26-27 South Great George’s Street, Dublin 2, D02 X019, Ireland
  • South Great George’s Street

Writer’s Note: I’m about to kick-off my Dublin-London blog series. I’m doing this because I miss documenting my life the way I used to back in the early 2000s. It’s also mainly because I want to get back into writing. Writing is a central part of my current role for a tech company I work for. I’m hoping that somehow I’ll improve my writing by practicing it here on my good ol’ blog.

Story highlights (or learnings, if you prefer)

  • For ANY international flight with connections, get to the airport 3 hours before. Do NOT underestimate this. Plus, Changi Airport is reason enough to check-in EARLY.
  • British Airways economy is fine.
  • Plan for longer transits at airports like Heathrow which have longer security and immigration checks.

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Dublin.

Not exactly at the top of my dream destinations. (Later on, I’ll tell you how much I love it.) I’ve always thought that seeing the rest of Asia (whether it’s the cherry blossoms in Japan, the snow as it falls on the great wall of China, or cafe hopping in India) was a priority.

A few weeks ago I was informed that I’ll be joining a marketing offsite in the Irish capital. Our company’s EMEA headquarters is in Dublin (and not London which I’d assume previously). Wow. Dublin. IRELAND. ❤ ❤ ❤

Heading to Dublin

I’m in a Grab taxi rushing to Changi Airport. The Grab taxi was the third attempt I got while waiting ferociously at my block’s void deck for 20 minutes. Damn it. I am going to be late for my flight. I have never missed a flight, EVER. But as I was looking at my clock, it was becoming almost inevitable. I was going to arrive at Changi Airport about 40 minutes BEFORE take-off. How could have this have happened?

10 days worth of clothes in this luggage

I get a call from the check-in counter and it’s someone from Etihad. They confirm with me that I’ll be reaching the terminal on-the-dot and they can let me drop my bags if I reach at 5:40 PM. I reach the terminal at 5:37 PM and make a mad dash for the assigned row. Only to find the TV monitors switched off a group of ladies (yes, all were ladies) behind the counter talking to each other like they were getting manicures. I AM NOT KIDDING. They were just looking at me. I could swear that confirmation call came from one of them.

Resigned to my fate… I am pointed to go to the end of the row where a counter staff was happy to accommodate me. She was a fellow Filipino and with it comes a certain level of warmth. “Miss, paano ‘to, na-miss ko na ba yung flight ko? Pasensiya na, ngayon lang nangyari ‘to… ano po pwede gawin ko?” (Miss, what can I do? Did I miss my flight? Sorry, this is the first time it’s happened to me. What can I do?)

She re-assured that I could still fly off this evening. It suddenly occurred to me that I was also going to miss my connecting in Abu Dhabi. And the possibility of not flying into Dublin for check-in at my pricey guesthouse also made my tummy churn. Damn it, George.

A few minutes later she shows me a handwritten note asking if I’m fine flying on a British Airways flight later that evening. I’d be flying direct to London from Singapore (omg, a 14-hour flight… woohoo I haven’t had one like that since I was a kid). Then connecting onto another BA flight to get me to Dublin. All in all, I’d be reaching Dublin only two hours late from my original Etihad via Abu Dhabi.

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LOL

That’s good news because that means I’ll be able to have dinner with PJ at Changi. And I’ll also be flying with my colleague who is on the same BA flight.

Dinner with PJ

After dinner with PJ, we head to Terminal 1 where he’ll drop me off. I’m reading WhatsApp messages that my colleague encountered problems at check-in and that she will not be able to board the BA flight. Oh man. She’ll have to rebook and fly to Dublin on another flight the next day.

Won’t be seeing him for almost two weeks.

I get a little cheesy with PJ. This is my first business trip with the company and my first time leaving PJ for about 10 days. Well, almost the same amount as back in September when I was in Manila for a while. We hug and we kiss by the departure door.

Making it to the transit

I’m in the transit area and I’m heading to the gate where my British Airways flight is assigned. It’s at Terminal 3 apparently (though the entrance was through Terminal 1). I hadn’t realized that T3 and T1 were actually connected by regular walkway.

Oh, it says go to Terminal 3.

Only as I approached the assigned gate was I getting the feeling that this was real. I’m flying to Europe for the first time. Yes, I’ll put that out there. A few checks to my passport and boarding pass and I’m in the boarding gate lounge. It’s already boarding. The flight is an Airbus A380 to London.

British Airways Flight BA12 (Singapore to London)

This flight would be the longest I’ve taken since I was pretty young. Most of my travels in the past twenty years have been within Southeast Asia or Guam. The longest flight would be the latter which would be a 4 or 5 hour flight to Hagåtña from Manila back in 2010.

BA12 to London – an Airbus A380

BA12 Economy. I flew economy for this whole business trip. This is to make up for this mess with BCD Travel (I shall name thee). I’m no expert with reviewing seats as I don’t travel often. But the economy seats were fine. Comes with your blanket, headset, and a pillow.

Flying economy on BA12

BA12 inflight entertainment. The screens were of standard size. I flew economy on Emirates to Sri Lanka in 2015 and I remember the screen size was the entire length of the back of the seats. I managed to watch two movies: “Green Book” and “A Private War”. Both are tear-jerkers!

BA12 economy meals. We had snacks served first. When I asked for white wine (to help with my anxiety and to help me sleep), they gave two bottles. One sauvignon blanc and one chardonnay.

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White wine and pretzels at the start of the flight

Supper/Dinner on BA12 Singapore to London – Beef

For the meal, I picked out the beef as the supper option. With it are sliced potatoes and veggies. There’s a potato salad as well and an apple crumble pie. It was sufficient.

Towards the end of the 14-hour flight we were served one more meal as a breakfast option. I picked out “English breakfast” which means a serving of scrambled egg, sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, and potatoes. They also had fruit.

Breakfast on BA12 Singapore to London – English Breakfast

BA12 flight path. I understand that the flight path had to be adjusted to avoid Pakistan. We flew over India and then towards southern Afghanistan and Iran. Over Iraq. I was trying to sleep by this point.

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In Heathrow

Ah, Heathrow! One of the world’s busiest airports. A delight to see!

A delight to also miss the connecting flight to Dublin. After going through layers of immigration and security, our flight from Singapore had arrived a few minutes too late to ensure I can get connected onto the Dublin-bound flight.

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The home of British Airways

Like clockwork I was pushed to another BA flight later in the morning. This gave me a five-hour layover at Heathrow. I took this time to stop and absorb the world-famous airport. I bought a snack at Pret-a-Manger and read my China Rich Girlfriend book by one of the emptier gates. I noticed how fast these gates were used. At Heathrow, apparently, gate assignments aren’t final until the minutes before a flight. “Gate announced at 9:37AM” would be a regular thing on a flight display. You have to be attentive.

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Look at that. 🙂

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You have to pay close attention to the boarding gate announcements. They change.

I took a stroll around Heathrow terminal 5. I visited a Harry Potter store and then I walked to the farthest end of the terminal area to buy a Monocle magazine from one of the stores. The airport was buzzing. Much more buzz than Changi Airport. I know it’s spring, but from someone coming from the tropics it looked like everyone was walking around off the set of Home Alone.

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One more flight to go.

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Spotted this at Heathrow.

My gate announcement was made and I trooped over to the other end of the terminal. At the gate I couldn’t help myself observe the crowd. Of course I was flying to Ireland so I was expecting more Irish accents (please forgive me for these trivial observations, I’m in fantasy land here). I dunno, I guess I’m just too excited.

British Airways BA 834 (London to Dublin)

We board the aircraft and it’s an A320 if I’m not mistaken. It’s a quick hop across the Irish Sea. I’m thinking it’s like Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, basically. That short.

The sun is rising at this point and the sky looks glorious outside. We land in Ireland and I’m all smiles. Wow. My eye-bags are making themselves PRESENT. FELT. But who cares. I’m landing in Ireland just days before St. Patrick’s Day. It’s going to be damn festive.

Entering Ireland

As a US passport holder, I encountered no problem at Heathrow and at the airport in Dublin. It was simply answering questions “why are you here?” (business) and “how long are you here for?” (until thursday, roughly 6 days).

Dublin Airport is tiny, almost provincial. But very functional. It’s chilly. Very chilly. I put on my 2nd jacket (the one from Uniqlo) and try to figure out the myTaxi app which was recommended to me since there’s no Grab coverage in Ireland.

Leaving the airport

Eventually, Uber is the functioning taxi-share app. I had the option of taking the Airport express buses into town but after a very long flight from Singapore via London, I wanted the comfort of a taxi to get me to my guesthouse downtown. After missing my Etihad flight and missing my connecting BA flight, the overall time it took me to get from Bukit Merah to Dublin Airport was short of 22 hours.

It’s very COLD. I walk over to the assigned pick-up area for Uber cars and it’s at the carpark about 200 meters away from the main airport terminals. The wind is blowing and it’s… basta, yun lang… COLD. I think it was 8-10 degrees C. But that doesn’t explain how cold it gets when the wind blows.

The Uber taxi is warm. And I take my first few Instagram stories of this beautiful route into the city. The sun is setting and I’m looking out the window at bushes, buildings, trees, pavements that look different from the ones back home.

Next up… Grafton Guesthouse in Dublin.