I have escaped again. That is twice in 2022 already.
This time I was more adventurous (not difficult, since I only got as far as Edinburgh in January) and crossed the Irish Sea to Dublin. A different island. A different country. I had to blow the dust off my passport.
I was tempted by the cheap prices in Dublin. Yes, you read that correctly.
The Aloft Hotel – touted as one of the best in the mid-range category in Lonely Planet’s February 2020 guide – offered me a room for €109 per night, midweek and booking a week ahead. The guide suggested it would be in the €150-250 range, and a taxi driver reckoned €240 before the pandemic.
The hotel’s buffet breakfast was €15, but I could easily have saved on that by going somewhere nearby had I wanted to.
My flight with Ryanair from Edinburgh was £71 return, using their fare which gives a 10kg cabin bag, priority boarding and seat selection. The flight was also relatively last minute, booked just a week ahead.
The small print?
Well, no Covid 19 testing was required in either direction. On that basis I bought FFP2 face masks to wear on the flights, costing £9.99 for 5.
When I arrived I took the airport bus into the city for €6. The service is very limited (every 30 minutes) as a result of pandemic travel being so low. My bus (15:35) was full. It had no ventilation. I reckon 20% of passengers were not wearing the mandatory masks. Judging by the accents I heard, I know where that 20% had come from (not Scotland, Ireland or Wales).
For my journey back to the airport 2 days later I decided a taxi would be a million times safer. The driver wore a mask, and as you would expect, there was a perspex screen between driver and passengers. €25 well spent.
While on the subject of safety, the situation in the hotel made me feel comfortable 95% of the time. As usual, some of the guests had decided that mandatory pandemic requirements were optional, but that seems to be the way in these parts. On the flights it was the same story.
Elsewhere on my wanderings around Dublin I was very comfortable about the current level of restrictions, and people’s compliance. It was a bit surreal at times, mind you.
One evening I went into a pub close to my hotel – Fallon’s, which comes highly rated by Lonely Planet. At 8pm it was full – as in all seats being taken but no-one standing. Of course the closely packed crowd sitting down to drink and talk loudly to each other were not wearing masks, but the bar staff were and the rule was to wear one entering and leaving, and to go to the bar or toilet.
I decided it was a high risk environment – even although complying with all the rules – and took my Guinness to the seats outside. Cool. Well chilled. The Guinness and me.
Overall it was an excellent decision to take that trip, and it has given me the confidence to consider something more daring for the next one.
ⓒ iain taylor, 2022