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.
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.