After returning to Dublin from my native country Finland, I felt a bit homesick: it was so nice and cosy to enjoy the fresh, frisky air outdoors and still stay warm indoors – few of the things I miss living in Dublin are the 3-glazed windows and central heating. After 12 days and over 2000 kilometres of driving, the Finnish holiday culminated in a mini-trip in Helsinki, a city well-known for its art nouveau architecture, wide and clean streets and promptly working public transport.
All this in mind, I have had to avoid Dublin city centre since coming back. Not that I don’t love it: for a Finn, Dublin is spectacularly interesting in its architecture. We don’t have the Georgian, the Victorian and whatnot grandiose yet British colonialistic eras decorating our cityscapes, nor do we have historic Guinnesses or little graveyards tucked away around every second corner. We don’t have the narrow streets with rumbling down buildings which at the same time make Dublin appealing and appaling.
I wanted to extend my feeling of cute cosiness after Finland. I spread our wedding presents, such as a big white blanket from Pentik (if you’re a Finn you know exactly what I’m talking about) and nice old-fashioned cotton table cloth with blueberry prints in the living and dining room areas. Moomin mugs are now a regular treat to have breakfast coffee from, and we still have some locally roasted, organic, Brazilian beans from a small Finnish roastery Papu (i.e., Bean).
But, finally, there came a time I had to endeavour to the city centre for some errands. There are some spots, like the upper end of O’Connell Street, past the Gate Theatre, which give me the shivers: dodgy looking park areas where, instead of grass, used needles seem to grow from the ground, and I cannot avert my eyes from those horrid broken windows “fixed” by stuffing dirty brown pillows on the holes.
But this time I was determined to avoid all these little things that make me frustrated and angry. So I leisurely walked across Phoenix Park to the city centre, past Guinness factories along the slowly gliding Liffey, which glittered in the sunshine. I walked past my favourite foodie street, Capel Street, along Bachelor’s Walk, past the Winding Stair bookshop and restaurant and took a turn right, across the ever-so-pretty Ha’Penny Bridge to busy Temple Bar where things at this hour, it being sunny but cold Saturday mid-day, weren’t yet too bad.
By this time I had already forgotten why a trip to the city had to be done, and noticed it was coffee time already.
As I couldn’t remember anything but the food stuff I needed to buy – I had to find some ground cardamon for cinnamon buns and tuna for the weekend’s sushi – we decided to go straight to Exchequer Street, to Fallon & Byrne, where you most likely find anything you might desire to buy but cannot find from the regular corner shop or the Tesco’s.
Fallon & Byrne is one of my favourite spots in Dublin. When you step in, you feel like you’ve entered a little countryside village market in Italy or France: you get vegetables sold in wooden baskets, rustic breads, a coffee shop in a corner, and meat, fish and cheese counters, not to mention all the organic ice creams and chocolates the dark autumn evenings require.
At the moment, Fallon & Byrne’s coffee shop is one of my favourites for weekend pastime: I love watching people going through their routines, cheery outings with family or friends, young couples holding hands while munching on their brioche, and especially people reading their newspapers quietly, one hand lifting the pages closer to the eye, the other hand mechanically going up and down, up and down to the mouth with a cup of coffee.