Wednesday 7 February 2007

So, I woke up at 7:15 this morning, 10 hours after going to bed and I could have still slept another 2 or 3 hours. Oh well. I had to get up to go to the client site. Myself, Jeff, Chris and Julio and one more engineer, Allan, will be consulting on site for a client in Ireland for 6 weeks.

We went to work and had a good experience – the client is teamed with fantastic enthusiastic people, and we were eager to get started. It was nice hearing the melodic Irish accents throughout the work day. I think I’m going to like working here 😉

Let me explain a little about the building we work in.

We had a taxi driver drop us off at the end of the street where the office is located – it was a one way street and we didn’t want to waste time waiting for him to find the other side. So we got out and started walking the last 200 or 300 yards or so.

We saw the front entrance come in to view, and literally across the street – like 30 paces away – are the glorious solid black heavy doors accented with gold lettering and a gold harp of the world famous Guinness Storehouse. For a beer drinker, this has to be in the top 10 most hallowed places on Earth 🙂 I thought it was really cool – in the heart of old Dublin, surrounded by really old brick and stone buildings, with the Guinness family name right there staring you in the face. Sweet!

After seeing the exterior of the Storehouse, we went in to the client site and received a brief office tour from one of their employees. She said that the office resides in what was used to be the old Guinness Storehouse and that Guinness had donated the building to the Irish government to contribute to what is called the Digital Hub – sort of a meeting place of high tech organizations, artists, students and researchers. It has a very cool Silicon Valley meets old Europe kind of feel – a very cool work environment.

We were shown to our desks on the top floor. Its awesome knowing that I sit in what used to be the heart of the Guinness operations for over a hundred years!

We broke for lunch and went to a really close local pub called McGruder’s, which had a great warm and inviting pub-style atmosphere – a fantastic place for socializing over a meal. There I had my first plate of real Shepard’s Pie, and it was as delicious as I expected it to be – hearty and satisfying on a cold Irish February day.

We went back to work and finished out the day. I was excited to get back to the hotel, because I had to get ready for Kendo! Yep, I’ve been in the country not yet 2 days, and I already found a Kendo dojo and made arrangements to practice there during my stay. I packed all my armor and shinai prior to leaving knowing that I could train 2 or 3 days a week. In fact that is a general condition of traveling for me for any extended period of time – I must be able to participate in Kendo practice at least twice a week. 🙂

I grabbed my gear and headed off to the Dublin Kendo dojo. The school was smaller than my GKA school, but it was still fun and the people were really nice. I’m definitely glad to train there for the next 6 weeks.

After kendo, I caught a taxi back to the hotel. I hadn’t eaten anything since lunch, and it was after 11 pm, and after working out for 2 hours, I was starving and needed something hearty. I cleaned up a little and went down to the hotel restaurant hoping to get something, but it was closed. I was pretty bummed and asked the concierge where I could get something to eat and he recommended this place right around the corner called Burdoch’s. I had no idea what this was, but I was open to anything at this point.

Chris was in the restaurant bar having a drink, so I asked if he wanted something to eat and he was game. We went literally maybe 100 feet around the corner of the hotel and found this tiny little shop built-in to the side of the building. When you walked in, there was maybe room enough for 10 people to stand inside and no seats. When I peeked over the counter, I saw these fry bins used to fry all sorts of fish and fries and other things. I then realized I was at a place that specialized in fish-n-chips.

I’m not too big of a fan of fried food, but I was starving and this seemed to be the only place open. So, Chris placed an order for fresh cod – n – chips, while I waited to see what it was like. He received his order in the traditional manner – on a few sheets of print-free newspaper and we were both amazed at the size of the fish – it was definitely enough to feed both of us. So instead of ordering my own, we decided to take it back to the hotel bar and share it.

We walked back to the bar and both ordered a pint of Guinness. Then I sat down for the first time since before Kendo practice and just relaxed. We then dug in to the fish. I have to say it was amazing! I found out later from some folks at work that Burdoch’s is the most cherished fisn-n-chips place in Ireland, and I have to agree!

That dinner was a great experience for me – and not necessarily because of the fish, which was delicious, but because everything just ‘came together’: Chris and I were eating fish-n-chips with a pint of Guinness in a Dublin pub with Ireland’s oldest cathedral as the backdrop to our view. After a long day and a hard work-out, and being new to Ireland, the meal was a sort of initiation to all the things I would experience over the next 6 weeks. It was a truly sublime experience.