“La dolce vita” usually makes me think of Italy and wine and Fellini and men rescuing women from fountains, but I have happily found that “the sweet life” can be easily transferred here to Dublin. It’s one of those things that fortunately does not get lost in translation. Surprisingly Dublin has many gorgeous Italian restaurants, and I have four to choose from within a three-minute walk from my apartment – Toscana and Fiorentina, just around the corner on Dame Street, and the La Dolce Vita wine bar just beside my apartment building. La Dolce Vita is the personification of its name. Every night the owners have a screening of a silent film just above the balcony – last night it was a Buster Keaton movie. And it also has live music on Friday and Saturday nights. It’s small and friendly, and its sign is the first thing I see when I leave my apartment. And my new favorite Italian spot as of right now is Cafe Topolis just around the corner on Parliament Street. I just had minestrone soup and penne al salmone, one of the lunch specials, for only nine euros. The penne was the best I’ve had since I stayed in Monterosso, one of the villages in Cinque Terre in the north of Italy.
But beyond food and wine and cappuccino, I guess the most important element of the sweet life is having choices and the freedom to enjoy them. I have the freedom to take yoga classes every Monday through Thursday from one until two at the Dublin Holistic Center.
I love everything about the place, the classes, and the people. Today after class I talked a bit with my new instructor – Rachel from Georgia – who told me that she came here four years ago for an Irish man, and that now she’s “just here”. (I’ve heard about this kind of thing a few times before. It happens. And sure, she seemed grand.) I have the freedom to volunteer at the Oxfam charity shop every Tuesday evening. I have learned many things there, including that retail therapy seems to be universal. I have the freedom to sleep in if I want to. How do I know that sleeping in is good? Rob Kearney, one of Ireland’s best rugby players, says so so it must be true. A quote from Rob…”I get eight to ten hours per night. I generally succeed. If not I may nap during the day! I get to bed early, read a book, and try to avoid phones, computers, etc.” Gotcha, Rob. I feel much better about myself after reading that.
The sweet life should also include the comfort of the old and the spark of the new. It’s relieving and easy to go back to the old, so I try a little bit harder to seek out the new. It’s effortless in Dublin because almost every museum and gallery is free of charge. On Friday I met up with my friend from New York City who lives here now, and we walked from the National Gallery to the National Library and then to the Museums of Natural History and Archeology and finally the Science Gallery which is part of Trinity College. (Each one, of course, has a cafe, but the cafe at the Science Gallery was voted “Cafe of the Month” because the owner Peter is so passionate about coffee that he decided to roast his own – Cloud Picker Coffee – roasted in Dublin City Centre.) But by far my favorite new thing from the day is the Kingship and Sacrifice Exhibition at the National Museum of Archeology on Kildare Street. It’s the home of the ancient bog people – the mummified remains of prehistoric people whose bodies have been pulled from the peat bogs of Ireland.
All of the bodies on display in the museum are amazingly preserved even though these people lived and died up to four thousand years ago. Each one met a violent death, thus the burial in a peat bog rather than a cemetery. The bodies are gnarled and gruesome and as soon as we leave my friend says, “I want to be cremated.”
And la dolce vita isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on unless you have a pretty haven that you can call home. My apartment here this time around is my favorite one yet. It’s new and safe with every modern convenience, well, except for a clothes dryer and dish washer. (Eh, I really don’t mind.) I love that I can say that I live on Cow’s Lane, one of the most colorful and busy streets in all of Dublin just at the edge of Temple Bar. Cow’s Lane has been here since the Vikings invaded. Every Saturday a crafts market comes to life to keep company with the always-here fashion design shops, Gutter Bookshop, and Queen of Tarts. I have two thousand neighbors on Cow’s Lane, give or take.
But of course this is not a complete list of the things that make up the good life. Leave me a few more of your favorite things and I’ll try to write about them next week. Thanks a million!