Power Up in Bryant Park

Bryant Park
Bryant Park

Next time you find yourself in midtown with you iPhone, iPad, iPod or iAnything running out of juice, stop by Bryant Park. The park is now offering free access to power outlets to charge your phone, laptop or whatever might need a boost. The outlets are located at the southwest corner of the park. The only catch is that you can only use it for an hour at a time. But  don’t worry, New Yorkers are generally nice when it comes to sharing.

Free power supply to park patrons.
Free power supply to park patrons.

As you enjoy the view of the New York Public Library and lawn, you can also enjoy a different type of re-charging as well with sandwich offerings from ‘wichcraft Sandwich Shop. If that weren’t enough, Bryant park also offers free wifi as well.

Craic Addicts

Experiencing a bit of the Irish craic at The Palace Bar in Dublin.
Experiencing a bit of the Irish craic with the bar manager at The Palace Bar in Dublin.

The Irish have a word for a good time. “What’s the craic?” I’ll resist the obvious jokes. I asked this question to several people I ran into during my unofficial pub crawl and it seems that the word is difficult to translate. Used in a sentence it goes something like “What was the craic last night?” or “Let’s go have some craic” and “That’s the craic, is it?

It’s easy enough to find the etymology of the word. It can be traced back directly to an olde English word:

craic : used in Ireland for fun/enjoyment, often when mixed with alcohol and/or music. The word is actually English in origin; it entered into Irish from the English “crack” via Ulster Scots. The Gaelicised spelling craic was then reborrowed into English.

Ok, so that’s is the literal meaning of the word, but what is the actual meaning as used by your average Irish man, or Irish woman, in the pub today. Of course I wanted to fit in, so I asked around to find the real meaning of the word.

“It means to go out, have a pint or four with your friends”

“…you know…fun…music and drinkin…”

“It’s indefinable…it is just something you have to experince”

and my favorite…

“If you have to ask, you’ll never know.  Let me buy you a pint”

A couple of pints later, I think I got it.  The Irish are love having a good time so much, they have their own unique word for it.  The craic is something you just have to let happen to you.

Three Things I Love About Dublin

There’s a lot to love about Dublin.  People flock to Irelands capital city to see attractions like the Guinness Brewery, which is now a major museum with its own posh bar.  In their hast to see all the historical sights, sometimes they overlook the simpler pleasures the city has to offer.  I’d like to offer up three unique things that I like most about Dublin.

A long-time watering hole for newsmen and corespondents of Dublin's three major newspapers.
A Medieval Walkway, Dublin, Ireland

The Palace Bar, located on Fleet Street is a Victorian gem of a pub.  Poets and writers have sought out The Palace Bar as a source of spirits and inspiration since 1823.

A word of caution, however.  This is not one of the more trendy bars in Dublin.  The Palace is strictly old-school.  The bar has not changed its décor in its 190 years.  The snug, warm interior gives you the feeling that as long as you have a pint of the black stuff in your hand, all is right with the world.

The Palace Bar’s association with Dublin’s literary tradition continues to this day.  Poet-laureate Seamus Heaney drops in for the occasional pint and it is still popular with newsmen from the Irish Times, whose offices are just around the corner. Even a lowly travel blogger like myself absorbs inspiration from its wooden tables.

Books stores like Books Upstairs carry on Dublin's Literary Tradition
Books Upstairs, Dublin, Ireland

Continuing the literary theme, Dublin probably has more cozy book stores (did I just say cozy?) than most cities its size.  One of the best is Books Upstairs.  Established in 1978, Books Upstairs is still run by Maurice Earls, one of its two founders. “From day one, we have been committed to selling good books and we have tried to stick with this idea ever since,” says Maurice. “Working closely with Ruth Kenny (who has managed the shop for over 15 years) and a dedicated staff, our bookshop has built a strong reputation for the quality and breadth of its stock.” Books Upstairs is now recognized as the leader in a number of fields in the humanities, and has an offering of great books at exceptional prices.

Cobblestone StreetsFinally it might seem a little odd, but I love the narrow cobblestone streets that still exist in parts of Dublin.  A photographer friend of mine, Greg, explained that the reason so many of the ancient streets and structures are still in place is because Dublin was not as badly touched during the bombings of WWII as London.  They had Great Britain in between to buffer the damages.  As with most cities, the narrow streets are best late at night and early in the morning.

Ha’ Penny Bridge, Dublin

The Ha' Penny Bridge, Dublin, IR
The Ha’ Penny Bridge, Dublin

Sometimes what initially seems like only an inconvenience turns out to be an opportunity to discover something charming.  I arrived at my Dublin hotel around 6:00am after flying a red-eye from New York, only to find that they didn’t have a room ready for me.  I couldn’t get mad, since, after all, it was 6:00am and check-out time was 2:00pm.  So I did what I normally do in a new city-I took a stroll.  I found my way to the Ha’ Penny Bridge, that crosses the river which divides Dublin, the Liffey.  The cast iron bridge was built in 1816 by a guy that operated ferries on the river.  Apparently, the ferries were in pretty bad shape, because the city gave him an ultimatum: repair the boats or build a bridge.  He chose the later on the condition that he could charge a ha’ penny (that’s half a penny to us Americans) for every one that crossed for 100 years.

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Can eternal love survive bolt-cutters?

One of the most charming things I discovered was the tradition of love locks on the bridge.  Basically, a couple will attach a padlock to the bridge and toss the key into the river, thus confirming their love for eternity-or at least until the City Council for Historical Preservation removes them for safety and maintenance reasons.  It doesn’t seem fair. I mean, do they ever have to clean out the coins from the Trevi Fountain in Rome because of ‘maintenance’ reasons?  Maybe I need to go to Rome and find out.