I stumbled into Dublin on the 22nd of December expecting the same old shabby city and I got a big surprise. Dublin has become sophisticated. The people have big wads of cash, the bars are decorated with pillars and gold and the girls have been hitting the gym and giving up the chocolate big-time. The city is a wonderland of pomp, debauchery and great stinking piles of money.
There is still no underground, and probably won’t ever be, making Dublin the only capital city I know of without a Metro system. Oh, there are lots of bus-only lanes in the city, but unfortunately the Dublin bus company have not bought any buses to put in them (a uniquely Irish solution to traffic congestion – lets make it so bad that everybody gives up and stays at home). This makes walking still the best way to get around, as it has been since the 70s.
And then the food – oh my good Christ, I have never tasted food as good. I sat in a well-known vegetarian restaurant and cried with my mouth full, knowing that I would never get food that good again. It was fucking divine. And then I remembered that I had thought the same thing about Sydney 3 years ago – that the food was astounding and wonderful.
After a while I realised the truth – it is not that food everywhere else is so great, it is that food in Sweden is so fucking dire. Really, it is pig slop, complete and utter crap. In Stockholm, if you get good food at a reasonable price, you are truly amazed. It almost never happens though: dry sandwiches, too much fat on everything, terrible service, a complete lack of imagination and willingness to try new things – yes, Swedish “cuisine” has it all.
Of course there is also bad food to be found in Dublin, but pick a random café and you will probably find something good. Here it is the opposite – wander into some place in Stockholm and you will be charged 10 Euro for food that should only be used as bedding for pigeons.
One major problem is that Swedes do not complain when something is bad. They grimly accept sub-standard food and do not make a squeak of protest which means that the bad food continues. Also the staff are never trained to handle complaints – I have tried a few times and received only confused and slightly panicked looks in return. They do not rush to give you a discount, or offer you something else, and pull out the manager – no, they simply ignore you and hope you just go away.
I am running a one-man crusade to change this. I return coffee in McDonalds if it is below par; I demand to see the manager if the staff don’t take my complaint graciously; and when the staff ask “So, was it OK” I answer honestly – “No, but maybe when I vomit on your table it will taste better on the way up.”
And for you Swedes – the restaurant in question was Juice on South Great George’s Street in Dublin. Fly there as soon as you can (with SAS, and not those scumbags Ryanair) and order everything on the menu at least twice. And experience truly good food (and Guinness!) for possibly the first time ever.