I've got to say, it's good to be back home. Traveling is exciting but it's also tiring and unfamiliar. Adam and I spent our second week in Dublin in nearly back-to-back trainings, meetings and conferences. We'd originally planned to take Friday off and do a long weekend in Galway, but we ended up staying in the office on Friday just to unwind and have informal chats and follow-up with all the folks we'd been training and talking with all week. Also to raise a pint with a friend to celebrate his imminent return to the US of A. As much fun as it sounds to go traipsing around Ireland, I think the Friday was well-spent, since one of the biggest benefits I got out of this trip was getting to know the Dublin-based Googlers better which has heightened my sense of commitment to them.
I did get to spend Saturday being a tourist, however, before flying back to the US on Sunday. Adam took the train up to Howth, and I stayed in Dublin and just spent the day walking around, mostly in the Temple Bar area. Being in Seville had reminded me that I'm a somewhat abnormal tourist: rather than rushing around to see all "The Sights," I'd rather take my time, check out some places that real people (dare I say locals?) might actually frequent, stop when I want, and just savor the time.
It was in this sort of spirit that I spent an hour sitting on a street corner listening to this Dublin cowboy playing some of the best slide guitar I've heard in I-don't-know-how-long. I have to admit that the Josh Bell experiment crossed my mind; who cares if I have no idea who the hell he is, if the music is so good it makes me want to stay until my butt's fallen asleep? I also went to an open-air book market, a "fashion" market (clothing and jewelery), and a really fantastic farmer's market in this hidden little square that I just happened to stumble across.
After wandering for awhile, I walked back out toward the river (like most significant European cities, Dublin has a river running through it) and saw crowds of people lined up along the river and on the bridges. One of the onlookers told me that it was the Liffey Swim; apparently once a year hundreds of people jump into the River Liffey and swim a couple miles downstream. It's one of the big events of the outdoor swimming season. And I happened to arrive just a couple minutes before people started launching themselves from the starting line:
The swimmers had to go through a decontamination shower when they got out of the river (yum). More photos from the day available in my Picasa web album.